tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 5, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
couns council, larry kudlow michael bennett, and congressman adam schiff, the chairman of the house intelligence committee. that's at 9:00 a.m. at noon eastern on sunday morning. you can follow me on facebook and twitter @jaketapper. you can tweet the sho show @theleadcnn. we actually read them. our coverage on cnn continues right now. have a great weekend. ly si will see you on sunday. happening now, breaking news. attacks and defend. president trump digs in against democrats' demands for six years of his tax returns. his lawyers have written to the department of the treasury, citing legal arguments why the president should not comply as an administration official warns of a long court battle ahead. bordering on confusion. president trump visiting the border with mexico and a section of the border barrier, he's backing down on threats to close the border but for claims, and i'm quoting him now, our country is full. iced out. hours before he was supposed to accompany the president to the border, the nominee to head
immigrati immigrations and customs enforcement or i.c.e., suddenly finds out he's no longer the nominee. so what's behind the president's sudden move? and biden's miscalculations. former vice president joe biden gives a rousing speech that could set the stage for a 2020 campaign. but then stumble again when he seemingly makes light of the controversy over his past unwanted contact. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the situation room. breaking news. president trump's outside lawyers havef e president's tax returns, from the democratic chairman to the powerful house, ways, and means committee. white house officials are preparing for battle, warning they'll take the fight to the supreme court. the opening skirmish in that fight is playing out as president trump visits the border with mexico and warns would-be migrants, and i'm
quoting him now, our country is full. after a week of threatening mexico, then climbing down from those threats, the president then headed to look at a section of the border barrier. he calls it a new wall, but it's more of a fence and a replacement for what already existed there. i'll speak with congressman hakeem jeffries of the judiciary committee. and our correspondents and analysts, they will have full coverage of today's top stories. let's begin with our chief white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, the p lawyers play defense back home over his tax returns. >> that's right, wolf. president trump is down at the border to promote his call for a wall, and he's using some extremely incendiary language on the issue of immigration saying today, quote, and you just said it a few moments ago, quote, our country is full. the white house is also gearing up for battle over democratic demands for mr. trump's tax returns with one administration official telling me, aides to the president are willing to take this fight all the way to the supreme court.
>> reporter: touting his administration's effort to secure the border, president trump lobbed new rhetorical hand grenades on immigration. >> our country is full, our area is full, the sector is full. can't take anymore, sorry. can't happen. so turn around, that's the way it is. i look at some of these asylum people, they gang members. they're not afraid of anything. >> aides to the president are building a different wall around mr. trump's most closely guarded secret, his tax returns. >> i'm under audit, but that's up to whoever it is. from what i understand, the law is 100% on my side. >> reporter: one administration official says the white house is willing to take the battle over the president's tax returns all the way to the supreme court, telling cnn, this is a hill and people are willing to die on it. the battle lines are being drawn as the president is in retreat on immigration, backing down from his threat to close the border, though that's not how
mr. trump sees it. >> i never changed my mind, at all. i may shut it down at some point, but i may do tariffs. >> reporter: despite declaring a national emergency at the border, the president is now giving mexico one year to crack down on migration into the u.s., as he demands that congress scraps much of the nation's immigration system that's been in place for decades. >> they have to get rid of the whole asylum system, because it doesn't work. and frankly, we should get rid of judges. you can't have a court case every time somebody steps their foot on our ground. >> reporter: just before his trip to the border, the president made a sudden change to his immigration team, pulling the nomination of ron vistellvi. stephen miller lobbied the president to make the move. >> going in a little different direction. ron's a good man, but we're going in a tougher direction. >> reporter: the president continues to mislead americans over what's happening at the border, tweeting, heading to the southern border to show a section of the new wall being
built, but so far, only repairs and replacements of border barriers have taken place, as a legal fight looms over the president's plans to divert taxpayer money to build portions of mr. trump's wall. while the department of homeland security mounted this plaque down on the border last year, it's attached to a section of replacement fencing. just before leaving for his t p trip, the president defended his needling of joe biden over accusations that the vice president has engaged in some unwanted touching. >> i think i'm a very good messenger. >> reporter: sounding more like a contender, biden fired right back. >> it doesn't surprise me. he doesn't have time to do his job, but look, it's, everybody knows who donald trump is. >> reporter: claiming he doesn't see biden as a threat, the president is selling his performance on the economy and pointing to the latest unemployment numbers that finds nearly 200,000 jobs were created last month. >> our country is doing unbelievably well, economically, most of you don't report that,
because it doesn't sound good from your perspective, but the country is doing really, really well. >> reporter: both the white house and the president's outside legal team are pushing back on the request for the president's tax returns from house democrats, as you mentioned. there's that letter from the president's legal team to the treasury department, seeking to block that request from house democrats. the president's attorneys essentially argued that this would set a bad legal precedent for future occupants over the oval office, as one senior administration official put it to me earlier today, if the democrats can go after the president's tax returns, republicans can go after speaker nancy pelosi's tax returns. but wolf, getting back to thi m on immigration earlier today, it is hard-pressed to find any other president in recent memory who's ever uttered anything along the lines of "our country is full" when it comes to immigration. it almost sends the message to any newcomer around the world that the u.s. is no longer open to immigrants, whether they be legal or illegal.
wolf? >> pretty stunning statement from the president. jim acosta at the white house, thank you. let's bring in our senior white house correspondent, pamela brown. she's here in "the situation room" with me. pamela, the president has hired a law firm to represent him in this fight over his tax returns. tell our viewers what you're learning. >> the fight over the president's tax returns escalated today with this letter from outside lawyers for the president to the general counsel of the treasury department. and this letter basically is saying that this request from the house ways and means committee chairman is a gross abuse of power, it's presidential harassment, and even if there is a legitimate purpose that they claim, the real reason is politics. that they don't like the president, because he's in another party. here's what the letter says. even when ways and means can identify some legitimate committee purpose, it cannot request tax returns and return information to punish taxpayers for their speech or politics. it goes on to reference the audit the that the president says is under by the irs.
saying chairman neal's request is especially inappropriate, because as noted above, he is asking for tax returns, administrative files and other information regarding an ongoing irs examination. now, as we know, wolf, tax returns can still be released to the public, even if they are under audit. but this is our first glimpse into the legal argument that the president's outside attorneys are makmaking, and they ask the treasury department to consult with the justice department attorneys before making any decision. because ultimately, wolf, this is up to the irs, to figure out how to handle this request. and the law, and what it means for the president, this unprecedented request. as you know, democrats have argued, they have the legal footing to do this. that this is their oversight responsibility. so this is just beginning of the fight, wolf. >> in the law, it says if the house, ways, and means committee asks for the tax returns of someone, the secretary of the treasury shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified. so that's what the democrats' argument is. a white house source, as you just heard in jim acosta's
report, says they're willing to take this fight all the way to the supreme court. so what does that signal about how long this fight could take? >> i spoke to one source familiar with the matter today, who said, it's going to be a while until anyone sees the president's tax returns. this is going to be a long fight. and this administration official did say they're willing to take it all the way up to the supreme court, wolf. and even, let's just remember, even if the irs does grant this request from the committee's chairman, that doesn't mean it automatically goes to the public. there is a whole process for that. but what is clear here today is that the president and his team of lawyers are going to fight this tooth and nail, all the way to the supreme court. >> very lengthy four-page, single-space letter that they wrote to the treasury department. pamela, thank you very much. joining us now, congressman hakim jefferies of new york. he's a member of the judiciary committee and also a house democratic leader, he's the chairman of the house democratic caucus. congressman, thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me on, wolf. >> so an administration official tells cnn that protecting president trump's tax returns
from being released is a hill they're willing to die on. you heard that in jim acosta's report. is this a hill democrats are also willing to die on? >> we're going to continue to proceed responsibly with our oversight function, which is consistent with the separation of powers in the united states constitution. every president since richard nixon has disclosed his taxes to the american people. gerald ford, jimmy carter, ronald reagan, george h.w. bush, bill clinton, george w. bush, barack obama have all disclosed their taxes. democrats and republicans, progressives and conservatives, the left and the right. a singular individual, donald trump, is refusing to follow this important practice. we, as a separate and co-equal branch of government, are trying to bring him into compliance. >> the president's attorney in this letter says that this
effort by democrats, in the attorney's word, is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party. your response to that? >> well, chairman richie neal of the ways and means committee is incredibly well respected, east a thoughtful individual, he's an institutionalist, who cares about the house and our role as a separate and co-call branch of government. we don't work for donald trump. we work for the american people. we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on a potentially out of control executive branch. and that is what we are doing. that's not the richie neal playbook. that's not the nancy pelosi playbook. that's the james madison playbook. >> are you completely confident that the courts will side with congress? >> i think that the law is pretty clear, as you indicated, wolf, that the statute says the secretary of the treasury shall
provide these tax returns upon request from the chair of the ways and means committee. that's not discretionary language. that is mandatory language. no singular individual in this country is above the law. donald trump is not above the law. we're hopeful that the article 3 federal courts will see it our way, as well. >> what exactly do democrats hope to learn from these six years of these tax returns? >> well, i think the tax returns that we seek, again, are consistent with the fact that the president of the united states, in the past, has consistently disclosed these tax returns to the american people. so that there can be disclosure. so that there can be some understanding as to whether there are financial interests that would lead someone seeking the office of the presidency or serving in the office of the presidency to be distracted by other interests that don't clearly relate to the well-being
of the american people. and that's what this is all about. we're going to continue to focus on the kitchen table, pocketbook issues, of importance to the american people, richie neal has led the effort to help protect the affordable care act and people pre-existing conditions. at the same time, we have a separate oversight lane, and that's what we're doing. >> should all presidential candidates be required by law, a new law, obviously, to release their tax returns? >> certainly, that is the case, and as part of hr-1, our for the people act, which is designed to help clean up corruption and the mess in washington, d.c. and bring our democracy to life on a moving forward basis, whether it's a democrat or republican, that absolutely should be a requirement. there would be no need for this law if, in fact, donald trump would simply make the decision to adhere to the precedent set by ronald reagan and george w. bush. he refuses to do so. >> let's get to the president
and the border with mexico. his message just moments ago, and i'm quoting the president now, our economy -- our country, he said -- our country, is full. full. what's your reaction to that? >> well, the president, unfortunately, continues to peddle xenophobia as part of a well-calculated political strategy, apparently to get elected. it's clear that we have a broken immigration system. it's clear that we need comprehensive immigration reform. but we should do it in a bipartisan way. in a responsible fashion, democrats and republicans, coming together to fix our broken system, consistent with the notion that we are a nation of immigrants, a gorgeous mosaic of people from across the world. that's what makes america a great country. we are also a country anchored in the premise of the rule of law. and we can do this together without the irresponsible rhetoric and conduct and behavior that far too often
comes out of 1600 pennsylvania avenue. if the president would only get out of the way. >> on another issue, congressman, how do you think the former vice president joe biden has handled these stories from these women coming forward, talking about how they felt uncomfortable during their interactions with him? >> well, these are serious allegations that have been made by serious individuals. and i think that moving forward, joe biden is going to have to take them seriously, as he appears to have done in terms of at least his initial video response, acknowledging that he is going no respect the personal space of individuals and refrain from behavior that makes people uncomfortable. that's the right thing to do. and now he has to carry it out, as he moves forward, either as a candidate or as a former vice president. >> congressman hakeem jeffries of new york, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you very much, wolf. up next, we'll have much more about the former vice
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that's what it takes, baby. geico®. great service from licensed agents, 24/7. we're following important developments in the 2020 presidential race. former vice president joe biden today gave an impassioned speech previewing many of his likely campaign themes. but everything he said is seemingly being overshadowed by his attempts to diffuse the controversy over weems complaints about his inappropriate physical contact. cnn's arlene signs was at the speech and was among the reporters who questioned the former vice president. how did he handle himself? it's a sensitive issue. >> well, wolf, if joe biden had hoped this story line would die down, he didn't do himself any
favors today. and his speech that he gave certainly sounded like a campaign rally, as he went after president trump and talked about restoring the middle class, but biden then brought the attention right back to those allegations that surfaced a week ago today. >> reporter: tonight, a partial apology from joe biden. >> i'm sorry i didn't understand more. i'm not sorry for any of my intentions. i'm not sorry for anything that i have ever done. i've never been disrespectful, intentionally, to a man or a woman. >> reporter: the former vice president still grappling with how to respond to claims he made women feel uncomfortable in their interactions and acknowledging more people could come forward. >> i wouldn't be surprised, but i've had hundreds and hundreds of people contact me, who i don't know, and you know, say the exact opposite. >> joe biden. >> reporter: as he took the stage at his first public appearance since the allegations, biden gave out a hug and made this joke.
>> i had permission to hug lonnie. >> reporter: and then did it a second time after calling a group of children up to the stage. >> by the way, he gave me permission to touch him. >> reporter: but shortly after, biden scrambled into cleanup mode, telling reporters he wasn't making light of people's feelings. >> i hope it wasn't taken that way. >> reporter: biden also appearing to inch closer to that 2020 bid. hinting, it's not a matter of "if," but "when." >> i'm told by the lawyer that i've got to be careful what i say, so that i don't start a clock ticking. and change my status. i get a shot and then we're off to the races. >> reporter: with a large and historically diverse field of candidates already taking shape, biden shared how he would brand himself. >> i'm an obama/biden democrat, man. and i'm proud of it. >> reporter: biden's already drawn the attention of president
trump. >> no, i don't see joe biden as a threat, no. no, i don't see him as a threat. i think he's only a threat to himself. >> reporter: he's hitting back. >> he doesn't have time to do his job, but, look, it's -- everybody knows who donald trump is. >> reporter: with his white house run just around the corner, biden says these allegations make it clear something has to be different. >> i think it's going to have to change somewhat how i campaign. it's not a bad thing. it's a new thing, it's important. >> lucy flores, the woman who first made the accusations last week that biden made her feel uncomfortable, she responded on twitter saying it's clear biden hasn't reflected enough since these incidents. the question is, will biden have to further address this? he told me, wolf, he'll be addressing his decision soon. >> you had a very good q&a with him, thank you, arlette. more on the breaking news, president trump hiring lawyers right now to fight democratic demands to turn over his tax
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this and more. abby, you cover the white house for us. what do you make of this extraordinary effort, this letter to the department of the treasury, saying, you know what, the law does not require the president to release his tax returns. >> well, it's no surprise that the president and his lawyers and his allies are trying to fight this tooth and nail. you know, in some ways, it's not clear to me that a lot of people even know why the president doesn't want his tax returns released, but they know that he clearly doesn't want them released and he has fought it since going back to his days as a candidate. and so this letter basically lays out what i think is the political argument from the president and from his allies, which is that these democrats on the house ways and means committee and on capitol hill are trying to politicize and weaponize their oversight authority and trying to use it against the president just because they don't like him. that, to me, is the core of the president's political argument that his lawyers are making in this letter, but of course, i think it's not clear to me that
they feel that they are actually on strong legal footing. i think they just want to fight this as long as they can, because i think it buys them time for the president's taxes to remain private and under seal. >> let's ask one of our legal analysts. you know, susan, the president and his legal team, as abby just says, they're saying there are serious legal and statutory issues concerned with his tax returns. do they have a case? >> it's a weak legal argument. there's a long extended discussion about the privacy interests in tax returns and the supreme court affirming that privacy interest. sure, that's a compelling, interesting argument, if we were talking about publicly disclosing the president's tax returns. we're not. this is about turning tax returns over to congress in closed executive session. you know, so there's a lot in here that's just basically irrelevant. the ways and means committee, their letter states a narrowly tailored legislative purpose. what they're saying is essentially, hey, we don't know exactly how the irs handles
presidential tax returns, what they do for auditing. we're considering passing laws about changing those rules, in order for us to understand what's going on, we need to see the president's entire tax returns, because we need to know whether or not everything they're doing is really sufficient or if something is falling through the cracks. that's a valid legislative purpose. there's nothing in this letter that refutes that this is a valid legislative purpose and that the statute is really clear. but this really isn't about making sort of a valid legal argument. it's about kind of throwing things at the wall, seeing if it sticks. and i think it's really about potentially giving the irs some kind of pretext, something to point to in failing to comply with federal law, failing to turn over those returns, so that we can engage in the kind of protracted legal battle that if the president gets his way, might extend past the election. >> phil, some democrats seem to think that the president's tax returns would show, potentially, some untoward foreign influence. is that something one could learn from seeing the president's tax returns? >> oh, heck, yes! and can you explain to me why
we're talking about the law? i served in government in the executive position. every executive in the intelligence community has to reveal who they owe money to. wouldn't you think it would be significant to know whether you're the president or a cia official who you owe money to, because you might favor them. what stocks do you own? can you be deciding, making judgments on issues when you own a stock in a company and that company comes up for some u.s. government judgment. these are significant questions that have nothing to do with the law. they have to do with what's appropriate if you're a government executive. i don't care what these lawyers said. i was in government. i wish i had hired lawyers to tell me, you don't have to fill out a form every single year to answer appropriate questions. who do you owent to know if you the release of the president's tax returns a priority? to walk to somebody. it's not law, it's ethics. >> you want making the return - this, because they know from the beginning, as everyone has said, that this is going to be a protracted fight. it's going to extend over many other issues that they are both investigating and legislating on. and that really is the challenge, to show that while
they are performing this oversight, and there is a reason that other presidents have put forward their taxes for precisely the reason that everyone has mentioned, it gives you an insight into the extent to which public policies they are pursuing may benefit them personally. so there is a legitimate reason beyond harassment, partisan harassment, to understand this. but they know it's going to be going on for a long time, and they know that they need to be able to show that they are also moving forward on other issues. in fact, if you look at what's happened so far on this congress, on things like passing the gun control, the energy reform, the energy and commerce committee passed legislation, moving toward floor to overturn trump administration actions, weakening the guarantees of pre-existing condition protections, they need to show they can do both at the same time, they can legislate their agenda, and they can conduct the kind of oversight that was almost completely absent for the last two years. >> one thing to keep in mind is why this is especially necessary for president trump. prior presidents have divested from their personal business holdings. their tax returns might have been interesting in terms of whether or not they complied
with tax law in the past, but because president trump has refused to actually divest his businesses, that presents an ongoing concern and a really rich and an important area for congressional oversight. >> and i think it's also worth noting that the president has tried to stop this there happening for so long, even though every other presidential candidate for many, many years, has done it. and it's not -- it's because he is concerned about his businesses. he's concerned about his personal finances, which have never been under scrutiny like other people in the political eye. and i think it's a little bit of a black box, because the president has made it clear that this is an area of sensitivity for him. i think for democrats, that has made them want to look into it more, because the fact that he has drawn such a red line on his personal finances and on his business finances seems to indicate that he believes that he has something to hide. and that alone for democrats gives them a reason to wonder, what is in there that he is so protective of and has been for
so many years. >> ron? >> wolf, real quick, just think of the track that we're on, though. this is just the latest indication that this administration is going to go to the mattresses on every front to resist congressional oversight. and there are going to be so many challenges steaming toward the supreme court, probably on the mueller report, on other subpoenas about access to information about clearances, security clearances, in the white house. we are heading toward a momentous, probably the most momentous series of decisions since the watergate era in terms of the ability of congress to exert oversight over an executive branch that by all indications is going to fight them until the last hour on every front. in part hoping to simply run out the clock through 2020. >> well, clearly, they would like to run out the clock on this issue. i've always suspected, and people, you know, around the president have suggested at least to me that, you know, he doesn't want people to see how much money he declared, as far as income, how much tax he paid, and how much charitable contributions he made, all of
which we would learn, if we saw his tax returns. >> there were a couple of questions, i mentioned the question about, basically, the ethical question about, how owes you money and who do you owe money to? you're raising a different question, which is what michael cohen said when he testified, and that is, are there differences between what the president's properties are worth and what he's declared for tax purposes or for insurance purposes? i think the president is afraid that people are going to look at this and say, "a," maybe i didn't contribute to charity, but also there are bigger questions, did i do taxes like every american is required to do? wolf. >> everyone, stick around, there's a lot more we need to discuss. there's more news right after this. one-millionth order. millionth order. ♪ there goes our first big order. ♪ 44, 45, 46... how many of these did they order? ooh, that's hot. ♪ you know, we could sell these. nah. ♪ we don't bake. ♪
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we're back with our experts. susan, what do you think, the former vice president joe biden, he made a couple of jokes about the inappropriate touching today. what did you think of that? >> some people are sort of accusing him of suggesting that this means that he isn't actually taking the issue seriously. you know, that said, it was a joke that was really at his own expense, certainly nothing about it was mocking individuals who had said that he had made them uncomfortable. that said, i'm sure his campaign advisers were cringing, were probably not happy about him making light of this at all, and it's a little reminder of what joe biden is like on the campaign trail. he's a little bit gaffe prone, he tends to speak his mind. and if he does, indeed, enter the 2020 race, we'll be reminded of that with a lot more frequen frequency. >> what did you think? >> i thought it was striking
that he afterward talking to reporters seemed to resist the ask for a direct apology to these women who had accused him of this kind of behavior. now, that's joe biden's prerogative. i think he is making a bet that his explanation of how he approached the situation and approached understanding what is acceptable and what is not is going to be sufficient to voters. but i certainly think it's not going to satisfy people who want him to say more and who want him to be a lot more contrite. i agree with susan. it's -- you should avoid jokes in a situation like this. i don't think there's any circumstances in which this is some kind of laughing matter. but this is who joe biden is. i think he, like a lot of people of his age and who's been in politics most of his life, hep wants to do things his way. he understands that norms are changing, but he's not going to change who he is as a candidate. and his campaign manager will have to deal with that one. >> go ahead, ron. >> yeah, look, he was elected to the senate in 1972. he's lived through fundamental changes in the country and the party.
and i think this whole episode is indicative of the larger problem he faces. obviously, he's taken positions and behaved in ways over the course of his career that are less acceptable now, especially within the democratic coalition. and he's got to figure out a way where he is not simply spending all of his time apologizing for things that he has done before. he needs to show that he understands things have changed, but he also needs to give people a positive reason to support him, rather than -- you know, rather than just simply kind of backing off things that they had earlier done. and it really kind of underscores the need for him, if he's going to run, to get into the race, to create an agenda, and show, "a," he understands how much things have changed, but "b," that it's more than an apology tour. that he has an affirmative reason to want to be president and to make the lives better for the people in the democratic coalition. >> let's get phil mudd to weigh in. go ahead, phil. >> he's done. he's a relic of the past. the democratic party for decades has been, let's move forward. you have people in the party, as ron said, he was elected in 1972, who are showing in this case that he still has remnants
of the past with him. you look at the candidates who are moving forward, buttigiebut kamala, cory, o'rourke, all of these are young people who say, i'm the hope for the future, i don't carry the baggage of the past, as obama did, as democrats did in the 1970s. >> bernie sanders is not that young, either. >> but he's done, too. >> he's doing well so far. >> no, he's done. >> it kind of highlights, though, what voters will decide. we can have this conversation at this table, but joe biden and bernie sanders are the two front-runners in the democratic primary, where their coalition is getting younger and younger by the year. it tells us something about what is going on, on the ground. where people are looking for a complex set of things, one of which might actually be experience and the other might be, in biden's case, the potential that they could stand up against trump. it's a very specific thing, not joe biden in a vacuum, joe biden against donald trump. >> everyone, stick around. there's more news -- hold your thought for a moment.
we've got more news we've got to report. after almost seven years of living inside ecuador's embassy in london, is wikileaks founder julian assange about to be ex l expelled? what happens to him if he leaves. visionworks can do more than just make you see great. the right pair of glasses can make you look amazing, too. get two complete pairs of single vision glasses for $59 or two progressives for $99. and choose from over 500 frames. visionworks. we're here to help you.
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he could face double jeopardy in the united states and we have more from brian todd. what are you learning? >> reporter: new information on julian assange's precarious situation inside the ecuadorian embassy and on what prosecutors in the united states could be after from assange, including information about the trump campaign's alleged efforts in 2016 to get dirt on hillary clinton. >> thank you. >> reporter: he is at the center of one of the biggest counterintelligence investigations in the united states, the russian attack on the 2016 election. up until now, julian assange, the mercurial founder of wikileaks, has been untouchable. holed up in a couple of rooms inside ecuador's embassy in london for almost seven years, publicly by a video or when occasionally holding news conferences from the embassy's balcony. >> my work will not be cowed -- >> reporter: his welcome may be wearing thin. on tuesday, ecuador's president
complained the 47-year-old has repeatedly violated protocol at the embassy. last night wikileaks tweeting, claiming a high-election ecuadoran official told them assange could be kicked out within, quote, hours to days. >> if that happens i think he'll number custody in quick order. >> reporter: british authorities are expected to immediately apprehend assange, either to charge him themselves or extradite him to the united states. if that happens, it would provide a last-second twist in the special counsel's russia investigation, coming just weeks after robert mueller turned in his report on election interference. assange could be the key to answering whether anyone associated with the 2016 trump campaign communicated with wikileaks about its release of damaging hacked information on hillary clinton. the attorney general says mueller did not establish conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russian government, but it's not clear if mueller had access to information from assange. so what could assange talk about
if questioned? >> any contact that assange had with the president, anyone on the president's team, roger stone, jerome corsi, anyone in that orbit, any americans altogether frankly. >> reporter: before finishing the report the special counsel appeared interest in assange. in the indictment of roger stone, mueller's prosecutor said stone was asked by a top trump campaign official to find out from wikileaks what dirt about clinton would be released and when. at the time, stone was claiming to be in touch with assange. stone later said he was never in direct touch, and assange has denied that he got the hacked information from the kremlin. >> it is not a safe party. so the answer for our interactions is no. >> reporter: but u.s. intelligence says the hackers were agents of russian intelligence, and according to one of mueller's indictments, wikileaks begged the hackers in the summer of 2016, quote, if you have anything hillary related, we want it in the next
two days. >> his interests align with the russian government's in 2016. again, it's no secret that assange has a stated motivation of destabilizing the u.s. interests and u.s. agreements, so it's easy to see how he could be a pawn. >> reporter: what's unclear is how the u.s. would handle it if assange is indicted. after the campaign, donald trump was thrilled. >> wikileaks, i love wikileaks. >> reporter: others in the administration have openly slammed assange and his organization. >> it's time to call out wikileaks for what it really is -- a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like russia. >> reporter: prosecutors also appear to be after him. late last year, a clerical error in a filing by the u.s. attorney revealed secret criminal charges in the united states against assange. it's not clear what assange mine charged with because -- might be charged with because he also led
the wikileaks pubsation of classified war files for iraq and afghanistan stolen in 2010. legal an -- legal analysts say that assange could be charged with posting the hacked emails. >> assuming that he knew that this information was hacked and was not legally obtained which he would know if he knew where it came from, then he can be on the hook for disseminating that information. >> reporter: assange's lawyers are battling in public on his behalf. one of them saying his expulsion from that embassy in britain would be illegal, that it would look like a, quote, war trophy displayed by britain and ecuador. a lawyer for assange in the united states said it would be a, quote, dangerous path to take to prosecute assange in the u.s. for publishing truthful information. >> brian today reporting for us. good work, thank you so much. coming up, breaking news -- president trump digs in against democrats' demands for six years of his tax returns.
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records. border backdown. after failing to close the southern border this week as he threatened, mr. trump travels to the region. tonight he's pressing his case for a national emergency and creating more confusion about his next moves. partial apology. as joe biden says he's getting close to a 2020 announcement, he's addressing complaints about his affectionate style and slamming president trump along the way. did the former v.p. undermine his own defense with a seemingly lighthearted reference to the controversy? and sick hoax. we're learning mother nature about the man who pretend -- learning more about the man who pretended to be a youngster missing for years. the charges he faces, the pain he caused, and where he got inspiration for the scam. we want to welcome our vi